With this simple recipe, make sweet red bean paste, a staple in Chinese cuisine. Made from adzuki beans, red bean paste is used in Chinese dishes served for the New Year and other festivities. Foods served during this time of year, such as sesame seed balls and sweet bean paste pancakes, contain the paste. Sticky rice cakes, sweet rice pudding and dumplings are other New Year foods made with red bean paste. Such dishes are said to help one start the New Year with luck, good health and prosperity alike.
Once you learn to make the paste from scratch, it will be that much easier to make the foods filled with the condiment. In fact, you can make a large batch of the paste to reserve as filing for a variety of dishes at the same time.
So, why is red bean paste associated with the New Year? The color red symbolizes luck in China. You'll find that even many Chinese Americans paint the doors on their homes red for precisely the same reason.
Fortunately, red bean paste isn't just thought to bring good luck to you; it's also good for you! Because the paste is made from beans, it is chock full of iron, magnesium and other vitamins and minerals essential to your wellbeing.
- 2/3 cup dried red beans
- Water for boiling
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup oil for frying
- To begin, wash the beans and throw out any that are damaged. (They may be misshapen or discolored.) Place the beans in a small to medium-sized saucepan. Cover them with water and soak them overnight. (This helps shorten the cooking time and rids the legumes of gas.)
- The next day, bring the beans and water to a boil. Simmer for an hour-and-a-half to two hours or until the beans have softened. Add more water as necessary. Drain.
- Process the beans in a blender until smooth. Remove them from the blender, and stir in the sugar.
- Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan. Fry the beans on medium-low heat (about 4 on an electric stove) for a few minutes until they are dry, pressing them gently with the back of a spatula to form a paste. Cool and use as called for in the recipe. If you store homemade sweet red bean paste in a sealed container in the refrigerator, it should last for approximately one week. Throw out any unused portions after then.
Copyright ©2003 by Rhonda Parkinson. All rights reserved.